Monday November 21, 2022
The Western Australian government has announced plans to completely decriminalise abortion in the state.
The McGowan Government has opened a four week consultation period which will seek feedback from “women, providers, and stakeholders” on issues including “the need for a GP referral to obtain an abortion prior to 20 weeks gestation; the current mandatory counselling requirements; the gestational timing of when an abortion can be accessed; and the Ministerial panel and its role”.
Under the state’s current laws abortions can be performed at up to 20 weeks but are very restricted after 20 weeks.
The current legislation states that an abortion “is not justified” after 20 weeks unless; “(a) 2 medical practitioners who are members of a panel of at least 6 medical practitioners appointed by the Minister for the purposes of this section have agreed that the mother, or the unborn child, has a severe medical condition that, in the clinical judgment of those 2 medical practitioners, justifies the procedure; and (b) the abortion is performed in a facility approved by the Minister for the purposes of this section.”
Western Australia also has 150 metre exclusion zones in place around abortion clinics which prevent pro-lifers from communicating with women and offering them support within the vicinity of the clinics.
Women’s Interests Minister Simone McGurk said, “Abortion is a fundamental part of women’s healthcare — it’s a right that should be fiercely protected.”
“Safety, privacy, and dignity when accessing abortion is vital. I urge women to have their say to ensure the legislation remains fit for purpose.”
The government has said that while abortion will be fully decriminalised under the proposal, it will still be an offence if an unqualified person performs or assists with one.
The consultation period was opened on November 20, 2022 and will close on December 17, 2022.
It is expected that a bill will be introduced into the state parliament next year.
Community Consultation: Abortion Legislation in Western Australia: https://consultation.health.wa.gov.au/pahd…/abortion-laws/